​The 12 Types Of Language (and Their Characteristics)

We owe much of what we are and what we do as human beings to our ability to use language.

In fact, this has no equal among all representatives of the animal kingdom: although other species are capable of complex vocalizations (such as parrots and some corvids) and others adopt very rudimentary gesture language systems (such as chimpanzees), no one More than us, they capture very abstract concepts in symbols and phonemes capable of being interconnected with each other forming sentences.

Furthermore, language becomes indispensable in our life in society and is key in our interpersonal relationships, and allows us to live being integrated into societies made up of millions of people.

But… What does language consist of and what forms does it take? In this article you will be able to learn how it is classified, through a review of the types of language that exist and their characteristics

What is language?

In the case of human beings, Language is a communication system, made up of oral and written signs which serve so that we can express our ideas, thoughts, emotions and feelings to other human beings, whether to two or more people.

Of course, the different types of language have not always included both speech and the transmission of information through writing. In fact, we have been able to use language through speech for hundreds of thousands of years, but writing has only existed as such for less than 8,000 years.

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On the other hand, language is only one part of communication, which is a broader concept. Being a good communicator is key to developing on a daily basis and to being successful in interpersonal relationships, at work and in life in general, but this set of skills goes beyond the use of language. To give you an idea, even the exchange of chemical signals carried out by millions of invertebrate and even microscopic animals can be considered communication.

Thus, while the different types of language always have a cultural component and are reflected in what is known as linguistic signs (elements that communicate information that is not contained in themselves and that require having been associated with certain concepts, through learning), communication can also include emotional aspects with innate emotional charge, such as seeing someone crying.

Communication, like language, can take different forms, since it is possible that there is more than one communicator (one person or several) or that the message is sent through a different channel.

The types of language (classified and explained)

Language is a multifaceted phenomenon that serves various purposes and manifests in diverse forms across cultures and contexts. From spoken words to written texts, languages exhibit a wide range of characteristics, reflecting their unique functions and features. In this article, we explore the 12 types of language and delve into their distinctive characteristics.

Spoken Language

Spoken language is the most common form of communication, involving the vocal production of sounds and words. Characteristics include intonation, rhythm, and nonverbal cues such as gestures and facial expressions.

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Written Language

Written language utilizes symbols, characters, and alphabets to represent spoken words and convey meaning. Characteristics include grammar, syntax, and punctuation, allowing for precise communication and documentation.

Formal Language

Formal language is characterized by adherence to grammatical rules, standardized vocabulary, and polite conventions. It is often used in academic, professional, and ceremonial contexts, conveying authority, respect, and professionalism.

Informal Language

Informal language is casual, relaxed, and colloquial, reflecting everyday speech patterns and slang expressions. Characteristics include contractions, idiomatic phrases, and familiar vocabulary, fostering a sense of intimacy and camaraderie.

Technical Language

Technical language consists of specialized terminology and jargon used within specific fields or disciplines. Characteristics include precision, clarity, and domain-specific vocabulary, facilitating communication among experts and practitioners.

Symbolic Language

Symbolic language relies on symbols, signs, and metaphors to convey abstract concepts and meanings. Characteristics include symbolism, allegory, and visual representation, allowing for nuanced communication and interpretation.

Body Language

Body language encompasses nonverbal cues such as posture, gestures, and facial expressions, which convey meaning and emotions. Characteristics include facial expressions, eye contact, and body posture, enhancing communication and interpersonal understanding.

Language typologies

Sign Language

Sign language is a visual-gestural communication system used by deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to convey meaning through handshapes, movements, and facial expressions. Characteristics include manual dexterity, spatial grammar, and visual communication.

Digital Language

Digital language encompasses communication facilitated by digital technologies, including text messages, emails, and social media posts. Characteristics include abbreviations, emojis, and hyperlinks, enabling rapid and asynchronous communication.

Vernacular Language

Vernacular language refers to regional or local dialects spoken by communities within a particular geographical area. Characteristics include regional accents, slang terms, and linguistic variations, reflecting cultural identity and heritage.

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Expressive Language

Expressive language is used to convey emotions, feelings, and subjective experiences through words, tone, and body language. Characteristics include emotive vocabulary, tone modulation, and empathetic expression, fostering empathy and connection.

Formalized Language

Formalized language consists of structured codes, rules, and protocols used in legal, scientific, or religious contexts. Characteristics include legal statutes, scientific formulas, and religious scriptures, embodying authority, tradition, and ritualistic significance.

Language encompasses a rich tapestry of forms, functions, and characteristics, reflecting the complexity and diversity of human communication. By understanding the 12 types of language and their distinctive features, we gain insight into the ways in which language shapes our perceptions, interactions, and cultural identities.